Jan 152015

Chef Ross Burtwell, Chef Terry Thompson-Anderson, Russ Kane (aka Doc Russ Texas WineSlinger)

A Texas Food & Wine Extravaganza from Three Texas Authors: Texas by the Book 

When: Friday, February 27, 2015, 6:30 p.m.

Where: At Cabernet Grill – Texas Hill Country Restaurant in Fredericksburg, Texas (2805 South State Highway 16, Fredericksburg, TX 78624
(830) 990-5734)

Texas wineries: Duchman Family Winery, Grape Creek Vineyards, Texas Hills Vineyard, Pedernales Cellars, Bending Branch Winery, and Brennan Vineyards.

The Cabernet Grill Restaurant at the Cotton Gin Village in Fredericksburg, Texas, is pleased to announce a celebratory early-spring Texas wine and food dinner on Friday February 27, 2015 at 6:30 pm.  It will be a feast featuring fine Texas cuisine (six course, wine-paired menu below) prepared from recipes from the new cookbooks from two eminent Texas chefs: Chef and author Terry Thompson-Anderson and the Cabernet Grill’s own Chef Ross Burtwell using local and Texas-sourced ingredients. Texas wine pairings will be selected by Russell Kane (aka Doc Russ Texas Wineslinger), author of the new book, Texas Hill Country Wineries, a wine trail guide and photo history.

According to Cabernet Grill Owner and Executive Chef, Ross Burtwell, “This is a very unique event the likes of which I’ve not seen in the Hill Country or perhaps even Texas”.

The exciting part of this Texas food and wine extravaganza that Chef Burtwell eluded to is that it includes a six-course gourmet meal with each course paired with a premium Texas wine, with the wines presented by principals from six premium Texas wineries: Duchman Family Winery, Grape Creek Vineyards, Texas Hills Vineyard, Pedernales Cellars, Bending Branch Winery, and Brennan Vineyards. Participating wineries, Duchman Family Winery, Pedernales Cellars, Bending Branch Winery and Brennan Vineyards, are also part of the newly formed Texas Fine Wines.


Also included in the price of the event, attendees will receive signed/autographed copies of each of the three books:

But, wait there’s more: The books will be snuggled into a gift bag with coupons for wine tastings for two at each of the wineries and a discount on purchase at Fredericksburg’s UrbanHerbal.

Cost $250.00 per couple (one set of signed books) or $150.00 single (one set of signed books), including wine pairings, autographed copies of each of the three books, plus tax and 18% gratuity on the meal. NOTE: Reservations Only. Reservation deadline is Tuesday, February 24, 2015.

Tickets for this event are available from Cabernet Grill by phone: 830-990-5734 with credit card. This unique and special dinner event is expected to be a sellout, and there is only one seating. So, it is suggested that reservations be made as early as possible. All sales will be final.

(One Heck of a) Menu:

Oysters Shrimphooley – Duchman Family Winery Vermentino

Fresh pecan-smoked Gulf oysters on the half shell topped with a mélange of

Shrimp, garlic, butter and Parmesan


Jumbo Lump Crabmeat Soup with Avocado and Curry & Lime – Grape Creek Vineyards Cuvee Blanc

Giant lumps of backfin blue crab meat and an avocado wedge swimming

In a heady broth of curry, ginger, coconut milk, and lime, then napped with Scallion Coulis


Crisped Kitchen Pride (Texas) Portabella Mushroom – Texas Hills Vineyard Sangiovese

Breaded with panko breadcrumbs, then flash-fried and served on a

Bed of chiffonade romaine lettuce, drizzled with red pepper aioli and crowned with

A nest of tiny-dice pico de gallo

Served with

Pan de Campo –

“Camp bread” designated the official bread of the State of Texas by the Texas Legislature

And signed into law by Governor Rick Perry in 2005


A Surprise Course to Delight the Palate


Certified Angus Beef Tenderloin Steak topped with a Sauce of

Aged Brazos Valley Brie Cheese and Shitake Mushrooms – Pedernales Cellars Tempranillo

Smoked Wild Boar Leg with a complex Blackberry Mustard Sauce – Bending Branch Winery 2012 Texas Tannat
On a bed of Soft Polenta with Jalapeños & Onions


Salt & Pepper Chocolate Panna Cotta – Brennan Vineyards Portejas

A sinfully delicious concoction of heavy cream, chocolate, caramel, and port wine studded with sea salt flakes and topped with port-wine macerated sun-dried strawberries and a dusting of Freshly ground black pepper

 Posted by at 6:32 pm
Jan 152015

Jennifer McInnis Comes to New Position at Bending Branch Winery


Bending Branch Winery is proud to announce that Jennifer McInnis will join its team January 26 as the company’s Marketing and Sales Manager. Jennifer will be responsible for marketing initiatives, social media and on premise restaurant sales.

Jennifer comes from the San Antonio Express-News, where she reported on the Texas wine industry for six years before being promoted to Food & Drink Editor of the Sunday Taste section in April 2014. The section has been awarded Best Newspaper Food Coverage in its circulation category by the Association of Food Journalists for four consecutive years, and her stories about Texas wine regularly appear on the front page of the Express-News.

She is a Houston native with 12 years of experience as a journalist, with previous positions at the Dallas Morning News and Corpus Christi Caller-Times. In 2008, she was a fellow in the Multimedia Editing Program at the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. Jennifer has a Mass Communications bachelor’s degree from Texas State University in San Marcos. She is a member of the San Antonio Sommelier Association and has attained Level 1 through the Court of Master Sommeliers. She also has served as a judge for the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo S.A.L.E. Wine Competition and the San Antonio Wine Festival Competition.

Jennifer said, “I am proud to join the Bending Branch team during this exciting time for the winery and the Texas wine industry. It’s impressive what they have accomplished in a little more than five years, and I’m thrilled to play a role in helping them achieve their goals for the future,”

“We are incredibly impressed with Jennifer’s accomplishments over the last several years, as well as her comprehensive knowledge of the food and wine industry. We at Bending Branch Winery are very excited about the talent she adds to our team,” Winemaker John Rivenburgh said.

— — — — —

Bending Branch Winery, a boutique winery near Comfort, Texas, is a sustainable practices and organically focused operation with 20 acres of vines, comprising 16 varieties. Our wines include award-winning Petite Sirah, Picpoul Blanc, Cabernet, Souzao, Vermentino and Tannat. While Tannat, our signature grape, has quickly emerged as a true champion of the terroir unique to Texas, we have found great success with many more. For information, news and events, visit www.bendingbranchwinery.com.s will join its team January 26 as the company’s Marketing and Sales Manager. Jennifer will be responsible for marketing initiatives, social media and on premise restaurant sales.


 Posted by at 12:09 pm
Jan 072015

Photo from TexasMonthly.com

TM Wine Club by Texas Monthly – Focuses on REAL Texas Wines

It was announced this week that Texas Monthly is starting a new wine club. Details were provided on their website at:


According to this site, members will receive a regular supply of the world–class wines currently being produced in Texas, and around the world. Shipments occur throughout the year in the months of February, April, October, and December. They will avoid shipping in the summer months, as the extreme temperatures throughout Texas can adversely affect the wines. This effort is being organized by Austin-based journalist and author, Jessica Dupuy who is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers as well as Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators.

Jessica explained to me that all wines will be Texas Appellation only. The exception being, for times that TM Wine Club decides to do a comparison [with non-Texas wine] for Tempranillo, Sangiovese, etc, it will be clear in the shipment letter what the purpose for that is. All of the shipments will include a letter from Jessica explaining the selections. However, she stressed that all wines will be Texas Appellation wines for the first few shipments.


Jessica Dupuy (center) with Austin-based media colleagues Denise Clarke and Matt McGinnis at Texsom

For those struggling to interpret Texas wine labels and want to know what Texas appellation really means….

Texas appellation means that the wines will be from Texas wineries whose wines can (according to federal regulations) carry federally approved appellations in Texas indicated on their labels. Appellations are a protected name under which a wine may be sold, indicating that the grapes used in the wine are from a specific district. According to these rules for a wine to carry a Texas appellation on the label, a wine needs to be made from at least 75% grapes actually grown in Texas or one of the seven Texas regional appellations such as Texas High Plains, Texas Hill Country, etc. Wines that carry an “appellation-less” label that uses the phrase “For Sale in Texas Only” are not generally made from enough Texas grapes to qualify as Texas appellation and are from wine or grapes that come to Texas from California.

Jessica further explained, “Future shipments that may be comparisons for different varieties, i.e. Texas Tempranillos with a couple of Spanish Tempranillos… or Texas Sangiovese with a couple of Italian Sangiovese wines… This won’t be for a while, but we wanted to leave the option open to do a couple of fun comparative shipments to show how well some of Texas’ wines are doing in a global context.”

She also stressed that, “As the name of the club implies, this is a ‘Texas Wine’ club. It’s about Texas wine. And since I’m the only one picking the wines, you can be sure that’s the commitment I’ll have in working on these shipment selections moving forward.”

Jessica, it sounds like this will be a wine club that will finally focuses on REAL Texas wines! And, certainly one that old Sam Houston would be proud of.

The February TM Wine Club shipment, featuring Texas Monthly contributor Jessica Dupuy’s Best Texas Wines, is available to members only. Click here to join.

 Posted by at 12:02 pm
Dec 222014


2014 Top Texas Wines that Titillated My Taste Buds List (Part 2)

Well, I think that we’re about half way through my list. Memories keep popping-up and neurons flashing in my brain that keep reminding me of the wonderful Texas wine experiences that I’ve had this year. This has also call to my attention how fortunate we’ve been to have great “Vintage of the Century” years like 2010 and 2012. They have helped us collectively (both producers and consumers) in the aftermath of the incredible difficult vintages of 2011 (fire, heat and drought) and 2013 (multiple late spring freezes). Most of the white wines we have to enjoy currently are not from 2013 but from 2012.

One of my stops earlier this year was in Plains, Texas, to attend Newsom Vineyards 2014 Grape Day. Thinking back, I’m thankful for being able to attend this year’s event where I had the opportunity to meet new growers and re-establish connections with those I’ve known for years, now a decade or more. Most of all, it presented the opportunity to taste a few wines that I likely wouldn’t have had the occasion to taste. Two notables, both Roussannes, are presented together to start off the second half of this year’s “Notables” list.

Arché Wines 2012 Roussanne and Eden Hill Vineyard 2013 Roussanne

The first Roussanne came courtesy of Howard Davies who presented winemaker-son Grayson’s Arché Winery 2012 Roussanne, fresh from its platinum award at the San Diego International Wine Competition. I caught a taste before the bottle was emptied. This Roussanne proved its mettle; vivid and rich nutty and lemon citrus aromas, great acidity balancing the grape’s viscous feel and gave attendees a taste of its Saint Jo Red River Valley heritage. The other was the 2013 Roussanne (Oswald Vineyard) with ripe lemon citrus and tropical pineapple carrying an overlay of nutty nuances and a silky mouthfeel. Please stop and think for a minute: this white grape could be destine for true Texas stardom (even more so that our state’s current favored white – Viognier. Every year a new one and a good one seem to appear as if by magic. But, in my opinion, it’s not magic, it’s destiny.

Pedernales Cellars 2012 Reserve Tempranillo

This wine has gained so many accolades that my first thought was wine bother included in my 2014 list. However, this IS a very special wine. Once to taste the Pedernales Cellars 2012 Reserve Tempranillo you know that it’s worthy of every bit of praise it has received. My taste came during my 2014 VintageTexas Tempranillo Day tasting shared with family and friends in Houston. The good thing about truly great wines is that they require few words. All I will say is that this Tempranillo was artfully made David Kuhlken and highlights dark cherry, earthy minerals, truffle, tobacco with firm tannins and a smooth lengthy finish. If you can still find this wine, or at least beg a taste or two, get as much as you can and it will please (either in your mind or cellar) for years to come.

Fall Creek Vineyards 2013 Sauvignon Blanc (Texas)

The Fall Creek Vineyards 2013 Sauvignon Blanc came to my glass during a tasting of Texas wines held at the Red Room Lounge in Austin. It was poured by the hand of the Fall Creek winemaker, Sergio Cuadra, and I was asked to taste it blind. The wine had such floral elegance in the glass that my first reaction was that it had characteristics that I’d only experienced in Viognier or Muscat, but this wine was much lighter bodied and brought an underlying note of green grass. Even after Cuadra told me that it was made from Sauvignon Blanc grown at Mesa Vineyards near Fort Stockton, I retorted something like “And, you blended in some Viognier or Muscat, right?”. Wrong! This wine is pure unadulterated Texas Sauvignon Blanc and, as far as I’m concerned, at its all-time best. You might still find some of this wine around at Spec’s or other wine shop.


Kiepersol Estate 2012 Stainless Syrah (Texas) No Oak

While at Kiepersol Estate for the release of their new grape-based vodka called Dirk’s Vodka, I came in early and had a chance to taste several of winemaker Marnelle Durret’s wines, some in bottle and some still in barrel and some bottled but not released. One thing that always is of interest to me at Kiepersol is what a great job they do with Syrah. Sometime it’s in their featured release of Barrel 33 and other times it’s their Estate barrel aged Syrah. But, this year it was their Stainless Syrah. It is amazing how extracted, dark, intense and grippy this Syrah is on the palate. In addition, it has an amazingly sense of terroir that I’ve come to associate with this estate vineyard. Add to this, clean aromatics of wild cherry, strong Earl Grey tea and a finish of a good char on BBQ beef brisket. If I’ve made you hungry for this wine, great…go for it!

Haak Vineyards and Winery, 2008 Madeira Blanc Du Bois

While I believe the current vintage of the Haak Madeira Blanc Du Bois offered at the winery in Santa Fe, Texas, is 2011 or 2012, I found this bottle of the 2010 vintage on the shelf at Spec’s in Houston. I had no fear as Madeira, by virtue of its method of extended Estufagem barrel aging at 105 F, is the most stable-for-the-long-haul wine you will find anywhere in the world. However, the things that make this wine worthy of distinction are the elements of the tasting experience this process produces: concentrated dried apricot, caramel toffee, countered with notes of Asian tea and lemon-tangerine citrus. I’m sure that the 2011 or 2012 will be similar as these are produced by what happens to Blanc Du Bois by this unique aging process. Also, recommended is the equally good Haak Madeira Jacquez that provides a more classic Madeira wine with intense walnut and hazelnut notes along with a hint of salty sea air. These wines are perpetual gold medal winners where ever they go and are a unique Texas product to share is others. I think that I will again tonight!



The downside of this type of list is that they could and should go further than the limited number of wines presented. Secondly, not all of these wines are still available, but please check your local supermarket, wine shop, Spec’s or even at the winery. I’ve sometimes been surprised what shows up long after the words “Not Available” are spoken. Also, if not available locally, in most cases, Texas wineries can, in most cases, ship their wines right to your doorstep or to your drop ship location (Mine is a friendly wig salon near my house that has an adult to sign for the shipment five days a week).

I hope you find the Texas wines you want for your holiday and year-end festivities. Please drink in moderation, plan for designated drivers when and if needed, and celebrate well with family and friends at this wonderful joyous time of year.

Drink well, my friends.

Russ Kane, Doc Russ Texas Wineslinger.


 Posted by at 1:28 pm
Dec 202014

Photo courtesy of homestyleaustin.wordpress.com

2014 Top Texas Wines that Titillated My Taste Buds List (Part 1)

As in previous years, if you recall, the year finishes with lists of “Best Texas Wines” and then the discussion starts about why everyone’s favorite wine was not on the list, and how deficient the “best wine” process is. Well, this year (under the fictitious but well-intentioned “Truth in Blogging Act of 2014”), I’m just going to present a list of MY favorite wines that I had the opportunity to taste in 2014. My tastings were done in a tasting rooms, as a wine competition judge, from an unsolicited sample, at a wine event somewhere in Texas, dinner with friends, or as part of a notable monthly tasting group in Houston.

Arguably, the venues and manner of tasting and the conditions under which these wines were tasted varied. But, none the less, in a bit of intentional understatement, I present the 2014 Top Texas Wines that Titillated My Taste Buds List. As you know, I usually try to limit it to ten wines, then fail miserably and end up with 11, 12 or 13 wines on the list. Here are the first six wines:

Duchman Family Winery 2012 Estate Nero d’Avola

From a timing standpoint, this wine made it to me just in time, but it was worthy…every last drop of it. The wine was part of a food and wine pairing run-thru that Chef Terry Thompson Anderson and I did for an upcoming issue of Edible Austin. Grown on a limited parcel on the Duchman estate vineyard in the Texas hill country, it approaches with luscious black cherry and red beet root characteristics that floats aromatics of florals that end in mineral earthliness. This wine has nearly endless food pairing potential; its flexibility makes it a delight to have handy in your wine cabinet. Our wine pairing will surprise you. But you’ll have to wait until Spring to find out what it was.


Llano Estacado Winery 2010 Viviano Rosso Superiore (Texas)

The Llano Estacado Viviano (Rosso Superiore) has been an acknowledged favorite of mine for nearly a decade now. It’s not an annually produced wine, but when winemaker Chris Hull and his boss Greg Bruni say “This is it!”, they put it in the bottle and ship it out. This was one of my featured wines in the Houston Chronicle during October for Texas Wine Month. The stunning presence and complexity this wine is of dark berries, tart red cherries, smoke, earth and spice and comes from the blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Sangiovese after 40 months (yes, 40 months) aging in French and American oak. Gotta grill something (but without sweet soppin’ sauces, please), give this wine a try.

Fall Creek Vineyards 2010 Meritus (Texas)

Very much like the previous wine, is not produced every year. In this case, this is owner/winemaker Ed Auler’s baby. He determined the blend and makes the call when it’s ready to go. This wine came to me (and others in a Dale Robertson Houston Chronicle monthly tasting) tasted blind in a group of over 50 wines. Yet, it was a standpoint for every one of the tasters that I polled once the wines were revealed. This is what a Cabernet-dominated blend in Texas should taste like: dark berry nuances, rich in body and spicy notes on the nose with a raciness brought by acidity on the finish. This wine’s got them all covered.


Inwood Estates 2012 Chardonnay (Dallas County)

I’ll admit not being one of the cheerleaders when it comes to Texas Chardonnay. But, it seems that this year, many roads and chance meet-ups have brought me to find some pretty darn good stuff. The year started with an excellent taste in Mason of a previous vintage Pilot Knob Chardonnay (fruit from Dan McLaughlin’s Robert Clay Vineyard). But, I tasted this Inwood Estate wine in Dan Gatlin’s Hill Country tasting room near Fredericksburg (thanks Dan for opening this place which is a lot closer to my hill country cabin than Dallas or even Florence). I liked this wine so much paired with one of his tasting room’s pull-pork sandwiches) that I featured it in a Feast of the Seven Fishes article redux in this month’s Edible DFW magazine and online. The Inwood 2012 Chardonnay from Dallas County is special wine with its green apple fruit, toastiness from light French oak aging, and minerally complexity (yep – that wet rock aroma) that harmonize in the glass to be sipped almost indefinitely or paired in myriad directions from smokey pulled pork to the creamiest Poulet Parisienne.


Becker Vineyards 2013 Provençal (Mourvèdre – Dry Rosé) Tallent Vineyard

This wine is a near annual performer on the Texas wine seen. It’s a work of passion for Dr. Richard Becker in his untiring efforts to bring a “Taste of Provence” (the acknowledged “home base” of dry rosés) to the Texas hill country. I tasted this wine soon after it became available at my local Spec’s Smith Street store, the “Mother Ship of Wine” in Houston. It’s classically colored salmon-pink with tart red-berry and minerally essences that capture memories of my trips to southern France with many balmy Mediterranean nights spent sipping wines made precisely like this one from the Mourvèdre grape. The wine’s single vineyard designation acknowledges longtime Becker Vineyards grower and exalted Texas hill country vigneron Drew Tallent.

Driftwood Estate Winery 2012 Longhorn Red  (Cabernet/Syrah Blend)

I was back judging at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s International Wine Competition this year. After blind tasting and evaluating over 100 wines on Saturday, I came back on Sunday to judge the finalists in several categories including best Texas wine, again all done blind. In the Texas flight, one wine stood out for me for it overall balance, structure and quality. It was dark, nearly opaque, a grand display of well extracted black fruit and yet something more. In addition, the wine had a well-crafted tannic grip and high toast notes on the finish. Having previously tasted owner and winemaker Gary Elliot’s gold medal winning 2011 Longhorn Red and several of his Syrahs, I would have bet my bottom dollar that the wine I was tasting in the finals was his, but I really didn’t know (that’s why blind tastings are such great events). The long and short of it, Elliot’s 2012 Longhorn Red is a wine of distinctions and truly deserves the title of Best Texas Wine from the 2015 Houston Rodeo wine competition.

There will be a few more to come in my next VintageTexas post, I assure you…Russ Kane, Doc Russ – Texas Wineslinger”

P.S. Look for my new book set for release on January 19th: Texas Hill Country Wineries (click here for info and discounted pre-release sales).

 Posted by at 1:55 pm
Dec 052014


Your Guide to the Texas Hill Country Wine Experience

The Texas Hill Country Wineries have roots as old as any around. Texas grapes grow in soils made from ancient calcareous sea deposits, similar to many of the grape-growing regions of Europe. Texas wine culture arrived in the 1600s with Spanish missionaries who settled and planted vineyards in El Paso del Norte. The 1800s brought German and Italian immigrant farmers to Texas; they considered wine a staple of everyday life.

In what is now America’s No. 5 wine-producing state, the Texas Hill Country was named by Wine Enthusiast magazine to its 2014 list of best international wine destinations. It may surprise some, but not the wine aficionados who have visited the Texas Hill Country’s 50 or more wineries, that wine-and-culinary tourism is currently the Texas Hill Country’s fastest growing sector.

This book (click here) is your guide to the Texas Hill Country winery experience. It is time to sip and savor Texas for yourself.

I share my time between Houston and the Texas Hill Country. I’m  a technical writer, researcher, wine blogger, and book author with work spanning three decades. My best-selling book, The Wineslinger Chronicles: Texas on the Vine (Texas Tech University Press, February 2012), provided me insights and stories from the pioneers of Texas wine.

In the book Texas Hill Country Wineries (Arcadia Publications, the largest publisher of local history,  January 2015), I tell the story of the Texas hill country wine experience in words and over 170 images, some going back into the late 1800s. This story is not only what the Texas hill country wineries are now, but also what came before from all around the state and from far away Europe to start wine culture in Texas.

Reserve your copy of the Texas Hill Country Wineries book at a pre-release discounted price. For more information and ordering, click here.

For your holiday gifts, give your wine-loving friends, family members  and business associates a copy of The Wineslinger Chronicles, click here. All books are discounted for the holiday season, autographed and personalized by me as you request.

Many thanks for your support and following my VintageTexas blog.

Russ Kane – Doc Russ Texas Wineslinger

 Posted by at 12:41 pm
Dec 032014


Texas Hill Country Wineries  – December 2014 Newsletter

Reprinted by permission of Texas Hill Country Wineries (click here).

Holiday Wine Kick-0ff Tasting at Flat Creek Estate

Join us THIS Friday! Friday, December 5, 6-8pm – Hill Country tasting with Flat Creek Estate, Stone House Vineyard, Fall Creek Vineyard, Westcave Cellars and Perissos Vineyard. Tickets are only $25! Click here.

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Holiday Wine Trail

Less than 60 Tickets Available! The most coveted wine trail of the year is almost SOLD OUT! Get your tickets now for the 2014 Holiday Wine Trail, December 5-21. Click here.

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Inwood Estates offers Shuttle Service

Free shuttle service provided by Inwood Estates Winery & Bistro for Fredericksburg. Interested parties can call the winery for more information 830-997-2304. Reservations or appointments are recommended for all guests but advance notice is required for larger groups of 6 or more.

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** Don’t Drink & Drive **

Use a designated driver or one of our great, local tour and transportation partners. For more info on Limos & Tours, click here.

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Winemaker Profile – – Angela Moench, Stone House Vineyard

by Texas Wine Lover

Angela Moench is the co-owner and winemaker at Stone House Vineyard in Spicewood, Texas. At the winery is a vineyard with Norton grapes. Angela Moench is from the Barossa Valley of Australia and the wines at Stone House Vineyard showcase Australian wines in addition to Texas wines. We asked Angela Moench about her background and philosophy of winemaking.

Q: If you didn’t make wine, what would you do?

A: I’d probably have a larger garden as I enjoy the outdoor life so much, read more books, and definitely do something creative. I used to think I’d like to have a restaurant but I’ve certainly outgrown that idea.

Read the full interview with Angela at Texas Wine Lover (click here).

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Wine Cocktails of the Month – Drinks with The Drakes

I Don’t Bake-Tini

– 1 oz William Chris Dessert Roussanne – 1 oz Praline Original Pecan Liqueur – 1/2 oz Pinnacle Whipped Cream Vodka – 1 oz Fat Free Whipping Cream * – Smuckers Sugar Free Caramel Sundae – Syrup* – William Chris Cocoa Almonds – Nutmeg – Martini Shaker – Ice

*I used Fat Free cream & Sugar Free options to cut calories, and it’s what I had on hand. It was delicious…but use what you like!

Pour Roussanne, Praline Liqueur, Whipped Vodka and Cream over ice in a chilled Martini shaker. Shaken or stirred is up to you…I prefer swirled! Carefully coat the rim of your Martini glass in Caramel, then into the Crushed Nuts. Pour cocktail into glass and top with fresh grated Nutmeg.

Hye Society Holiday Nog

– 1 part William Chris Dessert Roussanne – 1 part Southern Comfort Vanilla Spice – Eggnog – Splash 7-Up – Smuckers Fat Free Caramel Sundae Syrup – William Chris Cocoa Almonds – Cinnamon – Nutmeg – Ice (optional)

Carefully coat the rim of your Martini glass in Caramel, then into the Crushed Nuts. Add a small amount of ice as to not water it down. Pour in Roussanne and Eggnog. Splash with 7-Up and top with Cinnamon and Fresh Nutmeg!

Twice as nice for the Holidays, two drinks for the price of one! Our dear friends at William Chris asked us to mix up a cocktail for the holidays. I made one you can enjoy in their tasting room, and one you can buy a bottle to make at home. Time and I wish you all a Happy and Safe Holiday Season…Don’t Drake and Drive! Seasons Greetings ~ The Drakes

— — — — —


Dry Comal Creek Vineyard, Event Coordinator – This full-time position will work with Managemet & Customers to promote, sell & book, coordinate & execute all events at the winery (winery sponsored & 3rd party). This full-time position will be responsible for all pre-planning activities, scheduling & execution. This position will also have input into customer engagement & outreach program planning. For more info & to submit resume, contact sabrina@drycomalcreek.com

Inwood Estates Winery & Bistro, Part-time Bistro & Tasting Room – Now seeking part-time Saturday help in the Bistro & Tasting Room. Interested candidates should contact Vinny at inwoodfbg@gmail.com or 830-997-2304.

Messina Hof Hill Country, Assistant Tasting Room Manager & Tasting Room Associates – For more information & to apply, Click here.

Texas Wine Trail Member Wineries

4.0 Cellars, Alamosa Wine Cellars, Becker Vineyards, Bell Springs Winery, Bending Branch Winery, Chisholm Trail Winery, Compass Rose Cellars, Driftwood Estate Winery, Dry Comal Creek Vineyards, Duchman Family Winery, Fall Creek Vineyards, Fiesta Winery, Fiesta Winery Fredericksburg, Flat Creek Estate, Flat Creek Enoteca Marble Falls, Fredericksburg Winery, Grape Creek Vineyards, Hye Meadow Winery, Inwood Estates Winery & Bistro, Kerrville Hills Winery, Lewis Wines, McReynolds Winery, Messina Hof Hill Country, Pedernales Cellars, Perissos Vineyards & Winery, Pillar Bluff Vineyards, Pontotoc Vineyard, Rancho Ponte Vineyard, Santa Maria Cellars, Singing Water Vineyards, Sister Creek Vineyards, Solaro Estate, Spicewood Vineyards, Stone House Vineyard, Texas Hills Vineyard, Texas Legato Winery, Torre di Pietra Vineyards, Wedding Oak Winery, Westcave Cellars Winery, William Chris Vineyards, Wimberley Valley Winery, Woodrose Winery.

Click here for more info.

Wine Awards & Recognition

Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo International Wine Competition, Top Texas Wine – Driftwood Estate Winery Longhorn Red, Texas 2012

San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo International Wine Competition, Best Herd of Texas Winery – Messina Hof Winery; Reserve Champion White Wine – Hye Meadow Winery, 2013 Gewurztraminer; Becker Vineyards – 8 medals, Brennan Vineyards (4.0 Cellars)- 4 medals, Driftwood Estate- 6 medals, Duchman Family Winery- 6 medals, Fall Creek Vineyard- 5 medals, Fiesta Winery- 2 medals, Flat Creek Estate- 3 medals, Hye Meadow Winery- 14 medals, Kerrville Hills Winery- 7 medals, Messina Hof Hill Country- 27 medals, Pedernales Cellars- 2 medals, Perissos Vineyard- 6 medals, Rancho Ponte Vineyard- 2 medals, Singing Water Vineyards- 4 medals, Spicewood Vineyard- 4 medals, Stone House Vineyard- 1 medal, Texas Hills Vineyard- 6 medals, Texas Legato- 2 medals, Wedding Oak Winery- 6 medals, Westcave Cellars Winery- 3 medals, William Chris Vineyards- 5 medals

Texas Monthly Top 5 Texas Tempranillos – Alamosa Wine Cellars, El Guapo Tempranillo 2011; Spicewood Vineyards Estate Tempranillo 2012; Pedernales Cellars Reserve Tempranillo 2012 & Texas Tempranillo 2012

Spicewood Vineyard – New York World Wine & Spirits Comp – Gold- 2013 TX High Plains Roussanne, Silver- 2012 High Plains Tempranillo, Bronze- 2012 Estate Tempranillo

December Winery Events

5th – 21st – Holiday Wine Trail at all 42 wineries

2nd – Flights & Bites at Flat Creek Enoteca

3rd – Wine Profiling Workshop: Understanding Champagne & Sparkling Wine & Flights & Bites at Flat Creek Enoteca

4th – Ladies Night Out at Texas Hills Vineyard – Rustic Wine Diner & Flights & Bites at Flat Creek Enoteca

5th – Holiday Wine Kick-off Tasting – Flights & Bites at Flat Creek Enoteca – First Friday! at Stone House Vineyard – Texas Hills Vineyard at Fredericksburg Christmas Parade – Baby Back Rib Night with Live Music at Inwood Estates Winery & Bistro – Holiday Painting & Wine Party at Messina Hof Hill Country

6th – Pontotoc Vineyard Wein Halle in FBG – Baby Back Ribs & Guitarist Bobby Beal at Inwood Estates Winery & Bistro – Saturday Food Vendor, Live Music & VIP “Wine Library” Cellar & Barrel Tasting at Becker Vineyards – Live Music by Ryan Morris at Singing Water Vineyards – Live Music at Bell Springs Winery – Live Music Under the Pavilion at Torre di Pietra – Live Music Saturday at Pedernales Cellars – Private Reserve Tasting & Live Music at William Chris Vineyards – Book Signing by Chef Ross Burtwell at Texas Hills Vineyard – Live Music at Fiesta Winery FBG 290 – Smokin’ Rose of Texas BBQ & Live Music by Jeff Wood at Grape Creek Vineyards – Holiday Wine Couture at Solaro Estate – Flights & Bites at Flat Creek Enoteca

7th – Flights & Bites at Flat Creek Enoteca – Happy Sunday! at Kerrville Hills Winery – Holiday Wine Couture at Solaro Estate – Sunday Music at Becker Vineyards – Wine & Chocolate Pairing at Messina Hof Hill Country – Live Music by Jeff Wood at Grape Creek Vineyards – Sunday Music at Westcave Cellars – Wine Profiling Workshop: Misconceptions of Sweet & Dessert Wine at Flat Creek Estate

9th, 10th – Flights & Bites at Flat Creek Enoteca

11th – Rustic Wine Dinner & Flights & Bites at Flat Creek Enoteca

12th – Flights & Bites at Flat Creek Enoteca – Holiday Wine Couture at Solaro Estate – Baby Back Rib Night with Live Music at Inwood Estates Winery &Bistro

13th – Crepes by Crepe Nation & Live Music by Lonnie Lett at Grape Creek Vineyards – Flights & Bites at Flat Creek Enoteca – Winery U! Cabernet – The King of Reds at Dry Comal Creek Vineyards – Live Music at Fiesta Winery FBG 290 – Private Reserve Tasting & Live Music at William Chris Vineyards – Terry Thompson-Anderson Book Signing at Texas Hills Vineyard – VIP “Wine Library” Cellars & Barrel Tasting, Live Music & Food Vendor at Becker Vineyards – Live Music Saturday at Pedernales Cellars – Live Music Under the Pavilion at Torre di Pietra – 2nd Saturday Concert featuring Shan & Annie at Singing Water Vineyards – Live Music featuring Brad Blackburn at Kerrville Hills Winery – Live Music at Bell Springs Winery – Baby Back Ribs & Guitarist Bobby Beal at Inwood Estates Winery & Bistro – Holiday Dinner! at Stone House Vineyard – Pontotoc Vineyard Wein Halle in FBG

14th – Live Music by Lonnie Lett at Grape Creek Vineyard – Flights & Bites at Flat Creek Enoteca – Happy Sunday! at Kerrville Hills Winery – Sunday Music at Becker Vineyards – Dave Lewis from Spicewood Food Company at Texas Hills Vineyard – Sunday Music at Westcave Cellars Winery

16th – Fights & Bites at Flat Creek Enoteca

17th – Wine Profiling Workshop: Misconceptions of Sweet & Dessert Wine & Flights & Bites at Flat Creek Enoteca

18th – Rustic Wine Dinner & Flights & Bites at Flat Creek Enoteca

19th – Fights & Bites at Flat Creek Enoteca – Holiday Wine Couture at Solaro Estate – Baby Back Rib Night with Live Music at Inwood Estates Winery & Bistro

20th – Pontotoc Vineyard Wein Halle in FBG – Baby Back Ribs & Guitarist Bobby Beal at Inwood Estates Winery & Bistro – Saturday Food Vendor, Live Music & VIP “Wine Library” Cellar & Barrel Tasting at Becker Vineyards – Live Music at Bell Springs Winery – Live Music featuring Acoustic Jungle at Kerrville Hills Winery – Live Music Under the Pavilion at Torre di Pietra – Private Reserve Tasting & Live Music at William Chris Vineyards – Live Music at Fiesta Winery FBG 290 – Flights & Bites at Flat Creek Enoteca

21st – Live Music by Derek Spence at Grape Creek Vineyards – Flights & Bites at Flat Creek Enoteca – Happy Sunday! at Kerrville Hills Winery – Sunday Music at Becker Vineyards – Wine & Pie Pairing at Messina Hof Hill Country – Sunday Music at Westcave Cellars Winery

23rd, 24th – Flights & Bites at Flat Creek Enoteca

25th – Merry Christmas!

26th – Baby Back Rib Night with Live Music at Inwood Estates Winery & Bistro – Flights & Bites at Flat Creek Enoteca

27th – Flights & Bites at Flat Creek Enoteca – Live Music at Fiesta Winery FBG 290 – Private Reserve Tasting & Live Music at William Chris Vineyards – VIP “Wine Library” Cellar & Barrel Tasting, Live Music & Food Vendor at Becker Vineyards – Live Music Under the Pavilion at Torre di Pietra – Live Music at Bell Springs Winery – Baby Back Ribs & Guitarist Bobby Beal at Inwood Estates Winery & Bistro – Pontotoc Vineyard Wein Halle in FBG

28th – Sunday Music at Westcave Cellars – Live Music by Jeff Wood at Grape Creek Vineyards – Wine & Cheese Pairing at Messina Hof Hill Country – Sunday Music at Becker Vineyards – Happy Sunday! at Kerrville Hills Winery – Flights & Bites at Flat Creek Enoteca

30th, 31st – Flights & Bites at Flat Creek Enoteca

Happy New Year!

For more information on these events visit Winery Events (click here).

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Words to Sip By….

“The Texas Hill Country offers the complete wine country experience” including the genuine look and feel of what serious wine travelers have come to expect: quality wine yet something more…a beautiful setting that conveys ambiance and the region’s “sense of place”.

-Russ Kane, Vintage Texas






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 Posted by at 12:58 pm
Dec 012014

Starting in 1976, the Aulers planted an estate vineyard (shown here in 1983) on the shore of Lake Buchanan at their Fall Creek property in Tow north of Fredericksburg. This location provided beneficial cooling breezes, but also bought Pierce’s Disease that for many years challenged Fall Creek Vineyards and other hill country vineyards trying to grow European vinifera grapes. (Texas Hill Country Wineries – Courtesy of Ben Smusz.)

New Book from Doc Russ Texas WineSlinger on the Texas Hill Country Wineries

Upon reviewing my previous best-selling book, The WineSlinger Chronicles: Texas on the Vine, international wine luminary Oz Clarke rattled off the following blurb:

“Doc Russ is the kind of guy who can mix blues, barbecue and Barbera in a truly Texan way, and as he writes I can smell the mesquite smoke, hear the wailing guitar and chew the High Plains ripe red fruit. Right on Russ!”

The WineSlinger Chronicles (published by Texas Tech Press) is a literary treatment with stories the shed light on the heart and soul of the statewide Texas wine industry and focuses on its key people, their key contributions and personal stories. The personalized and autographed book makes a great gift for friends, family and associates that love good stories of Texas pioneering grit, gumption and perseverance. For your holiday discount on your purchase of The Wineslinger Chronicles, click here.

As you may know, I’ve not been sitting around letting the blowing west Texas red dirt gather in my boots. I’ve been working on a new book titled, Texas Hill Country Wineries, and it will be released by Arcadia Publications next month (in January 2015).


Photo circa early-1900s: Members of the Lorenz family and friends standing by cultivated grapevines on their property near Fredericksburg. It is harvest time.with everyone holding ripe bunches of grapes. (Texas Hill Country Wineries – Courtesy of Gillespie County Historical Society, Fredericksburg, Texas.)

This new book is a pictorial treatment of the Texas wine experience going back to its genesis in the 1600s in the Mexican town of El Paso del Norte. It follows the evolution of the immigrant farmer/winemaker experience that survived national Prohibition. The book culminates with today’s emergence of the central Texas hill country that was recently recognized by the Wine Enthusiast on their 2014 list of International Must-See Wine Destinations. This book contains approximately 100 pages and over 170 mostly color images carefully selected to tell the evolving story of the Texas Hill Country Wineries.

For more information on my Texas Hill Country Wineries book and your pre-release discount purchase option for an autographed and personalized copy of this book, click here.


Grape Creek Vineyards is a destination winery, an oasis sheltered under tall oak trees with the appropriate moniker “Tuscany in Texas” coming from its romantic Italian villa architecture. Taste wine in the tasting room, ease yourself down in the shade under the oaks. Texas Hill Country Wineries.

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Award winning author Russell Kane, shares his time between Houston and the Texas hill country. He is a technical writer with over 250 publications, researcher, wine writer/blogger and wine aficionado whose international wine travels and work spans three decades.

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